German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state

The FBI had a crypto-messenger programmed that was fully intercepted. For legal reasons, the US authority received the intercepted communication via detours. Because of „hearsay court orders“, its use in German criminal proceedings is questionable.

Ever since the encrypted messenger service EncroChat was hacked by authorities from France and the Netherlands in March 2020, investigative proceedings have been piling up at law enforcement agencies across Europe. Millions of chat messages have been transmitted via Europol to the relevant authorities in EU member states for follow-up. Almost every day, therefore, there are new raids, arrests or convictions in Germany as well.

Although the hack was presumably carried out by a French secret service and involved mass surveillance without any reason, the German Federal Supreme Court – unlike some regional courts before it – recently allowed the use of EncroChat data as evidence in Germany in principle. This was because the information had been collected by France, i.e. an EU member state, and passed on within the framework of European mutual legal assistance. The countries participating in this set of rules were to be trusted in principle. „German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state“ weiterlesen

Status agreement with Senegal: Frontex might operate in Africa for the first time

The border agency in Warsaw could deploy drones, vessels and personnel. It would be the first mission in a country that does not directly border the EU. Mauretania might be next.

As a „priority third state“ in West Africa, Senegal has long been a partner for migration-related security cooperation with the EU. The government in Dakar is one of the addressees of the „North Africa Operational Partnership“; it also receives technical equipment and advice for border police upgrading from EU development aid funds. Now Brussels is pushing for a Frontex mission in Senegal. To this end, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen travelled personally to the capital Dakar last week. She was accompanied by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, who said that a contract with Senegal might be finalised until summer. For the matter, Johansson met with Senegal’s armed-forces minister and foreign minister.

For operations outside the EU, Frontex needs a so-called status agreement with the country concerned. It regulates, for example, the use of coercive police measures, the deployment of weapons or immunity from criminal and civil prosecution. The Commission will be entrusted with the negotiations for such an agreement with Senegal after the Council has given the mandate. The basis would be a „model status agreement“ drafted by the Commission on the basis of Frontex missions in the Western Balkans. Frontex launched its first mission in a third country in 2019 in Albania, followed by Montenegro in 2020 and Serbia in 2021. „Status agreement with Senegal: Frontex might operate in Africa for the first time“ weiterlesen

First type certificate: Israeli drone may fly domestic missions in future

Arms manufacturers want to market their long-range drones for interior ministries or agriculture, but to do so they must fly over populated areas. Market leaders are working feverishly to obtain the necessary permits.

For the first time, the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority has issued a permanent permit to fly a drone in civil airspace. The type certificate was granted to the defence company Elbit for its „Hermes Starliner“, as the company announced in a press release yesterday. According to a spokesperson, Elbit spent six years working on the certification, a process that involved „thousands of man hours, dozens of audits, laboratory tests, ground tests, intensive flight tests and thousands of documents“.

Until now, civilian and military flights of such large drones in Israel were restricted to reserved airspace. According to the aviation authority, the certification that has now taken place meets the applicable NATO standards for the integration of heavyweight drones. Accordingly, the drones used by the military can use civilian airspace – for training, for example – and ascend over populated areas. „First type certificate: Israeli drone may fly domestic missions in future“ weiterlesen

Under Spanish leadership: EU military develops novel police drone

Several defence ministries are participating in a project on „dual-use“ reconnaissance drones. Only the Spanish army reveals that they can also be armed for military use.

EU member states want to develop drones with „autonomous behaviours“ that can be used for civilian and military purposes. These „dual-use“ aircraft are to weigh around 150 kilograms and do not require a runway. Accordingly, they could also be flown by law enforcement and disaster control agencies as well as civilian rescue organisations for aerial observation. The military wants to use them with the army, the air force and the navy.

The project is called „Next Generation Small RPAS“ (NGSR) and is part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation agreed by the European Council in December 2017. With the exception of Denmark and Malta, all EU Member States participate in what is also known as PESCO. The initiative aims to improve military cooperation between member states. To this end, the governments commit to increasing their defence spending and investing more money in joint research and development projects. „Under Spanish leadership: EU military develops novel police drone“ weiterlesen

German project: Drones for non-governmental maritime rescue

Searchwing has developed a waterproof drone that can be hand-launched from a ship. In a two-hour mission, the aircraft flies up to 120 kilometres. For real-time transmission, members are working on a new model.

In the Mediterranean, EU agencies use drones to track and stop refugees on their way to Europe. Since May this year, Frontex has stationed an Israeli „Heron 1“ on Malta, soon to be followed by an even larger drone. Individual member states are also increasingly relying on autonomous systems for their coast guards. They are supported in this by EMSA, the Maritime Safety Agency.

For some years now, non-governmental organisations have also been experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles. Their objective is to rescue people on the high seas and then disembark them in a state that will not persecute or mistreat them. One of the groups is Searchwing. In October, the activists completed a test on the ship „Sea-Watch 4“. I spoke to Philipp Borgers about this. „German project: Drones for non-governmental maritime rescue“ weiterlesen

New control system: Frontex ends pilot project on facial recognition at EU borders

Until now, only asylum seekers and visa applicants had to hand over their biometric data before entering the EU. With an Entry/Exit System, this will be extended to all other travellers from third countries. Border controls will be significantly delayed from 2022. Entry apps and automatic „eGates“ should save this time again.

The EU border agency Frontex has completed a series of tests on the storage and processing of biometric data at land borders. At three checkpoints in Bulgaria and Spain, four fingerprints and the facial image, as well as the date and place of entry or exit, were taken and stored, in addition to the travellers‘ names and documents. The border controls were carried out by volunteers, for which Frontex spent 1.5 million Euros.

The background to the pilot project is the imminent introduction of an Entry/Exit System (EES). All travellers from non-EU countries must register biometrically each time they cross an external EU border. This applies in particular to short-term visa holders and visa-free travellers from around 60 countries. „New control system: Frontex ends pilot project on facial recognition at EU borders“ weiterlesen

EU drones for people in distress: Dropping life rafts for pullbacks?

For the first time, drones are flying on behalf of an EU agency with rescue equipment on board. On the high seas, the actually useful technology could encourage illegal refoulements to countries like Libya. Perhaps the new function will only be used for minor maritime emergencies in European waters.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has awarded a new €30 million contract for drone services. It has gone to the Portuguese company Tekever, which is flying an „AR5“ for EMSA since 2016. Reconnaissance missions of this fixed-wing drone are carried out for coast guards of the Schengen member states, that have to submit a corresponding request to the agency for this purpose. According to the tender, the EMSA drones are also to monitor the Mediterranean Sea within the framework of missions of the border agency Frontex.

Tekever equips the „AR5“ with radars, day and night cameras as well as receivers for signals from ships or emergency systems. They can stay in the air for more than 12 hours. In Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, among others, the „AR5s“ have completed more than 1,200 flight hours in almost 250 missions, including surveillance and safety at sea, detecting pollution or combating illegal fishing. „EU drones for people in distress: Dropping life rafts for pullbacks?“ weiterlesen

Erdoğan son-in-law wants to equip world’s first drone carrier

After Turkey’s exclusion from the F35 programme, the fighter jets on the aircraft carrier „Anadolu“ could be replaced by armed drones.

Turkey could be the first country in the world to have an aircraft carrier with combat drones. The ship in question is the „TCG Anadolu“, which is to be launched next year. Ideas for this have been around for a while. Now Selçuk Bayraktar, founder of the drone company Baykar Defence and later son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has given details for the first time in an online event of the Aerospace Summit of Turkey’s Gebze University. According to this, the ship could be equipped with a successor version of the well-known drone „Bayraktar TB2“.

The „Anadolu“ is a copy of the Spanish „Juan Carlos“, which with a length of 232 metres and a displacement of around 27,000 tonnes is one of the lightweight aircraft carriers. The contract for the construction was awarded to a consortium of the manufacturer Navantia and the Turkish company Sedef, in whose shipyard the ship is currently being built under licence. Turkey thus becomes the fourth maritime power in the Mediterranean with an aircraft carrier after France, Italy and Spain. „Erdoğan son-in-law wants to equip world’s first drone carrier“ weiterlesen

German Social Democratic Party approves EU war drone

From 2030, European air forces want to have a drone for surveillance, interception or attack. The weapon system could be exported worldwide.

The German Bundestag has just given the go-ahead for the development and procurement of the Eurodrone. A so-called 25 million bill of the governing coalition of Christian and Social Democrats was voted on in the budget committee, the Defence Committee also gave its approval this morning. Their decision clears the way for the series production of a new unmanned system, which is to be delivered to the currently participating countries Germany, France, Italy and Spain from 2029.

The bill now passed for „industrial support for initial flight operations“ allows the Ministry of Defence to sign a contract with the German defence division of Airbus. The European company will be the prime contractor for the final assembly, working with Dassault Aviation (France) and Leonardo (Italy). The total project will cost at least 7.6 billion euros, of which Germany will account for exactly half. „German Social Democratic Party approves EU war drone“ weiterlesen

Frontex and the use of force

With the „Standing Corps“, the EU has an armed police force for the first time. The use of guns and other means of coercion is to be monitored by a „Committee on the Use of Force“, whose members are selected by the Frontex director. This reinforces the control deficit at the biggest EU agency.

Until now, Frontex relied exclusively on personnel and equipment sent from EU member states in its operations. The border agency had its own staff of up to 1,500 officers, but they were only in civilian clothes and mainly deployed at the headquarters in Warsaw. In the meantime, Frontex has become the largest agency in the Union in terms of staff and budget. The budget for this year is 544 million Euros, for the next seven years Frontex will receive 5.6 billion Euros.

Most of the money is currently spent on a new border force to implement the strengthened mandate of the border agency. The Frontex Regulation, renewed two years ago, provides for the creation of a „Standing Corps“ of 10,000 officers, divided into four categories for short- and long-term missions. 3,000 „Category 1“ officers will be assigned directly to the headquarters in Warsaw as so-called statutory personnel. They wear Frontex uniforms and are allowed to use other means of coercion in addition to pistols. This is the first time the European Union has had an armed police force. „Frontex and the use of force“ weiterlesen